By Doug Porter
Lorena Gonzalez may have moved on to the State Assembly, but she’s still got time to bang the drum for low wage workers. She’s headlining a press conference at the Mission Valley location of McDonalds corporate offices today to talk about a University of California Berkeley study detailing the cost to California taxpayers for fast food companies’ low wages and lack of benefits.
Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry, with many workers earning minimum wage or just above it forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and afford healthcare for their children. Nationally, the median wage for cooks, cashiers and crew at fast-food restaurants is just $8.94 an hour.
Contrary to the claims of companies like McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s, fast food jobs are not a stepping-stone to better opportunities or held mostly by young people. The National Employment Law Project reports that managerial positions make up just 2.2% of fast food jobs. The median age in the industry is 28, according to the group, and more than a quarter of workers are raising at least one child.
The meat of the matter, from Josh Eidelson via Salon.com:
Twin studies released at noon Tuesday estimate that the majority of families of front-line fast food workers use public assistance, at a taxpayer cost of nearly $7 billion a year, while seven publicly-traded fast food corporations made $7.4 billion in profit last year.
The first study finds that 52 percent of families of workers employed at least twenty-seven weeks a year and ten hours a week in rank-and-file fast food jobs are enrolled in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (the program which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children under “welfare reform”). That includes a majority of those workers who are employed at least forty hours week. The study, Fast Food, Poverty Wages, was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data.
A second study, by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonald’s workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks.
In August, fast-food workers in 60 cities across the country went on strike, calling for higher wages, so they do not have to rely on public assistance programs to get by.
Reuters quotes NELP analyst and researcher Jack Temple
“It doesn’t matter whether you work or shop at McDonald’s or not, the low-wage business model is expensive for everybody. Companies … are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.”
The State of the State of California: Gov. Brown Walks Fine Line on Legislation
It doesn’t matter who you talk to; Gov. Jerry Brown has blood on his hands following this year’s executive review of 896 laws that made it to his desk.
Gun control advocates are angry about his veto of a significant bill banning the manufacture, import and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and requiring those who already own such guns to register them.
Social conservatives are irate because Gov. Brown signed Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ bill expanding access to abortions by allowing non-physician health practitioners to perform first trimester aspiration procedures. California was the only state in the country to expand access to abortions in 2013.
The Governor vetoed 11% (96) of the laws presented for his signature.
Several political tea leaf readers interpreted his yeas and nays as a clear indication that Brown carefully considered the implications of his actions with 2014 campaigns (including his own) in mind.
From the Los Angeles Times:
… the famously moderate governor was also a check on their most liberal tendencies, vetoing some ideas as too extreme and issuing warnings that blocked proposed tax hikes before they even reached his desk.
“He has struck me as the adult in the room,” said Larry Gerston, a political scientist at San Jose State. He kept the Democrats “from going to a point where some people would think they are abusing their two-thirds majority.”
With his centrist actions, Brown could help Democrats retain their supermajority in next year’s elections, especially those lawmakers who represent swing districts. And the governor’s middle-of-the-road inclinations were on display in many areas.
Legislation approved by Gov. Brown included:
- Eleven bills boosting rights and benefits for immigrants.
- SB 569, requiring that interrogations of underage suspects in homicide cases be videotaped.
- A 25% raise in the minimum wage by 2016
- Overtime pay for domestic workers
- A ban on the use of lead ammunition, along with the requirement that long gun purchasers take a firearm safety class and criminal liability for firearm storage that endangers a child
- Requiring the state’s 50 charter cities to pay prevailing wages for state funded public works projects
- Placing a measure on the June ballot allowing the state to restructure $600 million in bonds to help build apartments and houses for low-income veterans
- A bill allowing two tier tuitions for some Community Colleges for hard-to-obtain classes such as college algebra, history and English needed by students to graduate and transfer.
Vetoes from the Governor’s office included:
A proposal allowing prosecutors to charge possession of heroin and cocaine as misdemeanors rather than felonies.
- Legislation giving Medi-Cal interpreters the right to join a public employee union and bargain collectively with the state along with establishing a certification process and registry of medical interpreters
- Assembly Bill 1229, by Assemblyman Toni Atkins, allowing cities and counties to establish inclusionary housing requirements as a condition of development, forcing developers to set aside units for low-income residents.
- A measure requiring anyone seeking to qualify an initiative for the statewide ballot to use non-paid volunteers to collect at least 10 percent of signatures.
- Legislation extending the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims who were excluded from a 2003 law that extended the statute of limitations.
- A rather complicated package of rules aiming to streamline the process of firing teachers in California. (It also removed an outdated statute listing “knowing membership in the Communist Party” as grounds for termination.)
No Budget Deal Today in DC
You may heard mutterings this morning about a “deal” to end the current budgetary standoff coming from the Senate. I wouldn’t place too much stock in it, as House Republicans are already plotting to derail the proposed agreement, including a Boehner approved “bi-partisan” measure.
The scheming took place at an off the record meeting led by Texas Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz at DC’s Tortilla Coast restaurant last night. From Roll Call:
The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.
Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.
The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans. And, it seems, leadership unwittingly became aware of the meetup.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the new House plan was designed to be attractive to Democrats, because it would follow key timelines that have been established in the Senate negotiations — funding government agencies until Jan. 15, for example, and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
But the plan would also include a two-year repeal of the medical device tax, and a provision eliminating the employer health-care contribution for members of Congress and White House officials, changes that are likely to generate strenuous opposition.
“We think we’ve enhanced it in a number of ways,” Issa said of the Senate framework. Asked how the House would react if the Senate rejected the changes, he said, “We haven’t passed our bill. They haven’t passed their bill . . . We today will pass a bill we believe the Senate should accept based on their likely negotiations.”
Apparently the House leadership’s definition of “bi-partisan” has been expanded to include the mere possibility of Democratic approval. Word is that Speaker Boehner doesn’t know if he has enough GOP votes to move this measure. …Oh, and some House Teahadists are also demanding that restrictions on contraception coverage also be part of any package.
Late Breaking Filner Flash:
From NBC/News 7:
Former San Diego mayor Bob Filner, forced to resign in August amidst allegations of sexual harassment by a former employee, now faces a felony criminal charge for false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery, court officials confirmed Tuesday.
UPDATE: Via a plea agreement, the former Mayor pled guilty to 1 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges. Although not confirmed, sources report the deal means no jail time. Filner will be formally booked on October 20th, released with out bail and sentenced on December 9th.
PRESS RELEASE- Here’s a copy of the press release from the CA Atty General with terms of the sentencing:
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has plead guilty to one count of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery.
Filner entered his guilty plea today in San Diego County Superior Court.
“This conduct was not only criminal, it was also an extreme abuse of power,” said Attorney General Harris. “This prosecution is about consequence and accountability. No one is above the law.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Filner must surrender his Mayoral pension from the date the felony was committed (March 6, 2013) until the date he resigned office (August 23, 2013). He will serve probation for three years and home confinement for three months. The agreement also prohibits Filner from ever seeking or holding public office again. As a consequence of the felony plea, Filner may not vote, serve on a jury or own a firearm while he is on probation.
Filner is required to undergo treatment as directed by a mental health professional throughout his probation. If he violates the terms of his probation, he may face up to 6 months in jail.
Fines including restitution, probation and court fees will be determined at Filner’s sentencing hearing, which will be announced today.
The California Attorney General’s office was assisted in this investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Fox News’”The Real Story” host Gretchen Carlson is peddling fear mongering to intimidate Americans from learning more about how the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) can benefit them. Fox News is so terrified that people will discover how much there is to gain by enrolling, that they continue to invent ever more frightening tales of horror.
On This Day: 1860 – Grace Bedell, 11 years old, wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. The letter stated that Lincoln would look better if he would grow a beard. 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis began. It was on this day that U.S. intelligence personnel analyzing data discovered Soviet medium-range missile sites in Cuba. 1976 – Ike and Tina Turner split their musical act.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@